It’s difficult to imagine a time before the Apple Watch even though, of course, it existed. Since its release, there hasn’t been another wearable that could dethrone the Apple Watch as the best smartwatch around. Few have tried, like Samsung’s line of Galaxy Watches, but none have yet to convince me otherwise.
The Apple Watch Series 8 is the latest in the line, and, while it’s largely the iterative update I was expecting, it’s still crazy to believe how far ahead of its closest competition it remains. I’ve been testing out the 45mm version of the Apple Watch Series 8 for two months now, proving yet again to me why I constantly keep going back to the Apple Watch after trying out other options.
I’ve also realized that it’s an easy tech gift for just about anyone on your list this holiday season, mainly because it offers the broadest set of accessories. From watch bands to cases, even a niche accessory that adds a camera to it, you’ll have a handful of ways to accessorize it.
- Comprehensive software experience
- Fluid performance
- Tons of accessories
- Better than average battery life
- Gorgeous display
- It’s on the pricey side
- Compatible with iPhone only
|Dimensions||45 x 38 x 10.7mm|
|Display||1.9-inch 396 x 484 pixel OLED display|
|Processor||Apple S8 SiP|
|Wi-Fi||802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz|
|Included in the Box||Apple Watch Series 8|
Apple Watch Magnetic Fast Charger to USB-C Cable
|Today’s Deals||$349 at Amazon|
Apple Watch Series 8 Design
What can I say about the design? Not surprisingly, it doesn’t deviate from past Apple Watches with its square face design. You’ll find its digital crown and action button fashioned onto the right side, while a small cutout on the left tucks away its speaker. I’ve criticized Apple for refusing to design one with a traditional round face style, but this style grew on me over time.
With this particular version, I feel like the design suffices for a wide range of uses. It can look sophisticated when paired with a premium metal band, or ready to tackle physical activities with its usual rubbery straps. Either way, the fact that the Apple Watch Series 8 has more accessories for it makes it far more customizable than its closest competitor.
It’s no wonder why Apple hasn’t changed the design at all. When you have a magnitude of ways to personalize it, the Apple Watch Series 8’s design is enhanced thanks to them.
Apple Watch Series 8 Display
The biggest decision to make when buying an Apple Watch Series 8 is which size to get. In the past, I went with the smallest version possible, but with this, I enjoyed the larger look of the 45mm size. That’s because it boasts a large(r) 1.9-inch 484 x 396 OLED display.
On top of its size, I love how the screen has minimal bezels all around its sides to maximize the space. Details are plentiful with its Retina Display pixel density of 329 ppi (pixel per inch), while colors are undeniably punchy. This all looks really nice on a display that achieved a peak brightness output of over 3,000 lux.
I was impressed with how the watch faces could be customized in every facet possible, from the colors of the background to which “complications” you want to see. Complications are the icons that are used for shortcuts to such things as showing the temperature, accessing a specific contact, or even changing a widget to something else. There’s an endless amount of combinations to these complications, so you can make it your own.
I ended up using the modular watch face with that iridescent green color to emulate the look of the Indiglo feature on Timex watches that I loved from childhood. All of these reasons make it lovely.
Apple Watch Series 8 Software
If there’s one area that’s often underrated with the Apple Watch, it’s without question the software. On the surface, there’s very little change that the average person would recognize with WatchOS 9. But the refinements that Apple continually makes with the platform are exactly what makes the Apple Watch Series 8 seem so polished compared to its contemporaries.
As I’ve mentioned already, there’s an unprecedented level of personalization. Beyond that, there’s a laundry list of new features that accompany WatchOS 9 — which on its own is a comprehensive list. Here are just a handful of the ones I was excited to test:
- Backtrack lets you retrace your steps back to your starting point
- Logging your medications, supplements, and vitamins with the Medications app
- Unobtrusive notifications that show up as banners when you’re actively using the Apple Watch
- Access heart rate zones while you’re working out
- Tons of new, playful watch faces
In all honesty, the software is what I love most about the Apple Watch Series 8. It’s functional, highly personalized, and offers everything to please social media nerds and fitness buffs alike. There is also the life-saving potential of the Apple Watch Series 8, which many of us don’t (and hope) to never use — but it’s there should the time come.
For example, the Apple Watch Series 8 offers the same crash detection that was first introduced with the iPhone. The new temperature sensor can track your temperature while you sleep to see changes over time, as well as provide more accurate menstrual cycles for females.
All in all, it’s the new WatchOS 9 software that really makes the Apple Watch Series 8 great.
Apple Watch Series 8 Performance
Powered by Apple’s new dual-core S8 chipset, the Apple Watch Series 8 is more responsive than ever before — and you don’t need to run several apps to see why. Simple actions such as scrolling with the crown are accompanied by this fluid movement while moving from app to app barely slows down its movement.
For workouts and exercises, it tracked my activities and exercises — including my heart rate for an even more accurate calorie burn. Furthermore, its ability to know when I’ve stopped exercising is another big reason why this smartwatch is smarter than the average smartwatch. Rather than continue to monitor my steps and heart rate, it’s intelligent enough to stop on its own.
Apple Watch Series 8 Battery Life
I was beyond impressed by the Apple Watch Series 8’s battery life. Of course, I expected the 45mm size to last much longer than my previous 38mm Apple Watch, but I was blown away by its long-lasting results.
After a full day of usage, its battery life has been around 50% on average. That’s an impressive mark given the Always-On display. But more importantly, it outlasted the Google Pixel Watch in my testing by offering double the battery life.
This is significant because my previous expectation was about a full day on one charge but nothing more with most smartwatches. Knowing that it got me through a full day with still half a charge is a step in the right direction. I really didn’t expect the battery life to be this good.
Apple Watch Series 8 Pricing
The Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399 for the base 41mm aluminum casing. From there, the price jumps when you upgrade to the 45mm version, along with the more premium stainless steel casing and cellular options for always-on connectivity.
Yes, it’s still a pricey gadget when you look at its closest competitors — the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and Google Pixel Watch which start at $280 and $350, respectively. However, I feel the price is more than justified considering its smooth performance, rich software, unyielding health features, and excellent battery life.
Our Verdict: Should You Buy the Apple Watch Series 8?
You really won’t be disappointed by the Apple Watch Series 8. It’s the perfect gift to give to others, or yourself, since it’s packed with features that are unrivaled in a smartwatch.
I’ve tested over a dozen wearable, smartwatches, and fitness trackers this year, but I would have to give the Apple Watch Series 8 the unanimous title of being the best pound-for-pound smartwatch. Not only is it the perfect companion to the Apple iPhone, but it holds its ground on its own as a standalone. Really, there are times throughout the day when I found myself interacting with it more than my iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Superficially, it looks and functions in nearly the same capacity as its predecessor, but the Apple Watch Series 8 continues to show us (including me) why it continues to be unrivaled.